To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, you can commune with the stars as a special party, enter a lunar dome for an immersive Apollo 11 experience, watch the “Apollo 11: First Steps” in IMAX and enter a portable planetarium or take your kids to a story time about moon babies.
Take a long and winding road up to the Mount Wilson Observatory, either for the regular Saturday and Sunday public tours (11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.) for $15 or buy $100 tickets to an exclusive nighttime party on Friday night, July 19, 7:30 p.m. to midnight. The Observatory will open an experimental Cosmic Sound series with Jeff Talman’s “Of Sound Before the Stars” inside the dome of the 100-inch telescope. Talman ( jefftalman.com) will introduce his compositions and talk about its creation; the music is derived from the Cosmic Microwave Background. Guests will be able to observe celestial objects through the 100-inch telescope. Talman has made installations in Cathedral Square in Cologne, Galleria Mazzini in Genoa, the MIT Media Lab, St. James Cathedral in Chicago, St. Peters Church in Manhattan, and in the Bavarian Forest. In 2018, two of Jeff’s installations were premiered under at Mount Wilson Observatory as part of a celebration of George Ellery Hale’s sesquicentennial.
Tickets for the Talman event or the public tours can be purchased online (www.MtWilson.edu). Public tour tickets can also be purchased at the Cosmic Cafe, located above the large parking lot at the entrance to the Observatory. Tours run about 2 hours. Participation in both require climbing stairs and children under the age of six are not permitted.
Also on Friday afternoon (1 p.m.), the Kidspace Children’s Museum’s Busy Bee Book event for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 features Karen Jameson reading her new picture book “Moon Babies!” Jameson will read and sign books. Admission to Kidspace (480 North Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena) is $14. For more information, visit Kidspacemuseum.org or call (626) 449-9144.
On Saturday, July 20th, JPL will be taking a portable planetarium to the California Science Center (700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles) as part of a free one-day only event: “Looking Back, Leaping Forward.” JPL’s interactive planetarium will provide an immersive presentation on space. A team from USC will have an artificial intelligence system featuring an Apollo 15 astronaut. Other activities include learning about meteorites, gravity and if you could land an Apollo lunar module. The center’s collection includes an Apollo-Soyus command module, spacesuits from the Mercury and Apollo eras and a lunar sample. Beginning on July 15, you can buy tickets to see the special IMAX science center edition of Todd Douglas Miller’s “Apollo 11” documentary ($8.95 to $6.75). For more information, visit CaliforniaScienceCenter.org or call (323) SCIENCE (323-724-3623).
Closer to home, you can enter the 40,000 square-feet lunar dome at the Rose Bowl and be one of the first to experience the “Apollo 11 – The Immersive Live Show.” Although the story about a fictional Mission Control engineer remembering his experience to explain its significance to his teenaged granddaughter could be tightened up and scientists and science geeks might cringe at the reasoning given for space exploration, the 360-degree projections provide stunning visuals. Your seat quakes as the Saturn rocket launches and the show features a slightly smaller version of the lunar landing module which you can take selfies of after the show. The July 20th 12 noon performance includes a conversation moderated by LA Times’ columnist Patt Morrison with former NASA astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development for space programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne Frank Slazer and author of “Space Shuttle: The Quest Continues” and “Space Shuttle: A Quantum Leap” George Torres. On July 24th (anniversary of the Apollo 11 splash down) will have a STEAM program launch with the Aldrin Family Foundation. For tickets ($45-$215) or more information visit Apollo11show.com or call 1-833-5-APOLLO.